Radical KM: a journey

(A story about Radical KM)

Meet Sam, Chief Knowledge Officer at Widget Inc. she’s been working in knowledge management for more than 20 years, she’s passionate and knowledgeable and knows what it takes to be successful with knowledge management

Sam knows that there are lots of reasons to do knowledge management, but she also knows that her CEO’s favourite reasons are that knowledge is the only asset that grows when it’s shared—if she shares how to make a cake with you, you both now know how to make a cake, she doesn’t lose the ability to make a cake because she’s shared it with you. Tangible assets, like buildings and roads decrease in value because of wear and tear and will need to be maintained or replaced.

The second reason, and her CEOs favourite, is that knowledge management has been shown to have a positive impact on the stock market performance of an organisation. That is, the better an organisation does with its knowledge management activities, the better it performs on the stock markets.

With all the changes that have taken place in the last 20 years, plus the confusion and complexity introduced with the pandemic, Sam has been wondering how to adapt her KM activities to meet the needs of these changes. She hears about VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) everywhere, and certainly her organisation is not immune to VUCA.

Sam also hears a lot about how people need to be creative, and she’s noticed that creativity underlies a lot of other in-demand skills. She knows that creativity is what differentiates humans from technology and that creative practices and attitudes support both creative and sustainable leadership behaviours.

Sam knows that creativity is something that’s been educated out of us (certainly hers was in her quest to get good marks and a good job) and yet our organisations are in dire need of it because it fuels innovation and growth. On a personal level creativity also improves resiliency and helps cope with stress, something everyone could use in the current state of the world.

Knowing all these things has resulting in Sam’s being stuck, she doesn’t know what to do; she’s trying to figure out how to support the organisation through the current upheaval caused by the pandemic and other global events but there is so much noise, and so many people trying to “get back” to how things are, but Sam knows there’s no going back, that the organisation and the world need to adapt and move forward to a new normal.

One day, Sam was scrolling through the knowledge management tag on LinkedIn and came across a post about something called Radical KM and got very curious; she read a couple of articles and watched a recording of a webinar.

She discovered that Radical knowledge management takes people, process, and technology as they have always existed in knowledge management and adds creativity, and that creativity is a multiplier. It can be included anywhere there are knowledge management activities that involve people, which is most of them.

She learned about an organisation that had implemented the ideas encapsulated in Radical KM. The organisation had improved collaboration and trust, and they had been able to solve what had seemed to be intractable problems.

Radical KM focuses on the people component of KM. The creative activities it advocates for can help build relationships and help people get out of their boxes and look at a situation differently, coming up with new connections and ideas.

The MBA in her thought that adding creativity seemed counterintuitive. After all, western society been focused on being analytical and rational for hundreds (if not thousands of years). However, being analytical and logical is what got the world into the unsustainable situation that we find ourselves in. So, while it may not be analytical and logical and it may seem counterintuitive, it also seemed to be exactly what is needed.

Sam recognised that we need space for creativity in our organisations and our lives if we are going to be balanced and sustainable. Knowledge and continuous learning needs space for reflection so that people can make different connections and come up with new, innovative ways of resolving this the unsustainable situation.

Sam recalled Einstein’s words about ‘the thinking that got us into this situation is not the thinking that will get us out’ and realised that Radical KM and creativity might just be the shift in thinking that will get us out of this mess.

Sam decided to start piloting Radical KM and gather data and success stories so that when she spoke with the CEO, at the next quarterly meeting she would have the beginnings of a great story to tell.

Be like Sam, start your Radical KM pilot now.

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